Lt. Gov. Barnes responds to Wisconsin’s potential loss in federal food aid

Wisconsin could lose $50 million each month in federal food aid after Gov. Evers' mask mandate was struck down
Risk Of Losing Fed Food Aid

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The end of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order could impact families’ ability to buy food. The state could lose $50 million each month in federal food money.

“It could potentially impact far too many families across the state,” Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said.

Barnes stopped at the La Crosse city bus headquarters to talk to MTU and Xcel Energy leaders about transportation expansion. His visit comes after Wisconsin’s emergency order ended by the decision of the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

News 8 Now asked Barnes about the Supreme Court’s decision. Barnes’ concerns reflect more than the state’s effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The state risks losing money communities use to help families who struggle to pay for groceries.

“This presents just another unnecessary problem in their lives,” Barnes said.

Barnes said it’s bad enough for adults dealing with food insecurity. There’s another population affected as well.

“When children aren’t able to have a solid meal before they start to learn it impacts their education,” Barnes said.

Earlier this year republicans passed a bill to secure funding for snap benefits — but in doing so they added several other measures the governor opposed.

“Will have to come in and refix it again and hopefully this time he won’t veto it because these dollars are at stake now,” Rep. Joe Sanfelippo from New Berlin said.

Republican Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Nancy VanderMeer from Tomah told News 8 Now, “I would want to convey that it’s unfortunate that Gov. Evers chose to veto Assembly Bill 1, the first piece of legislation that the Assembly took up and passed this session. That bill would have allowed the governor to declare a public health emergency to receive federal funds like the USDA food aid.”

“In the interest of accuracy, it would probably be good to point out that the alleged loss in federal funds would be related to additional emergency allotments (supplements) pertaining to pandemic relief and would not affect regular benefits. Assembly Republicans plan to discuss options in the coming weeks.”

Barnes said lawmakers may try to come up with a new emergency order to prevent the loss of this money.

“At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that we are taking care of people across the state of Wisconsin,” Barnes said.

He said stress over paying for a meal shouldn’t be on the shoulders of Wisconsin residents.

“To think about hunger as an issue in the most country in this entire world, that’s something we have to wrestle with,” Barnes said.

According to another study by Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Wisconsin rose by approximately 28 percent in 2020.